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Lectures of Hirohiko Araki



TABLE Table of Contents


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained


Masculinity in Japan


David Bowie & His Influence on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure


Prince’s Influence on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki


INTERVIEW: Hirohiko Araki




JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained


WHEN STANDS CRY For thirty years now, the best manga on shelves hasn’t been a saga starring a loud-mouthed ninja in orange or some sword-slinging death god. It’s been JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure, a series which really really lived up to its name. Spanning over a hundred printed volumes so far, it’s a franchise of books, anime series and video games that looks utterly weird on the surface. It is, it really is and that’s what makes it so wonderful. So if you’ve ever wondered if you should jump into some JoJo reading, then here’s a light primer to get you started....

Ok, what’s a JOJO? 10

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Let’s wind the clock back a bit. It’s 1987 and manga artist/writer Hirohiko Araki has just experienced a massive success with the first tale set in the Jojo universe. Imagine a saga that spans decades, linked by blood and the weirdest supernatural phenomena. Oh, and super-crazy powers that don’t make sense at all but still look utterly awesome in action. That’s the gist of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The Jojo part of the equation comes from the protagonists. Each one of them has a first and last name that contains a “Jo” within them, hence the Jojo nickname that accompanies them. You’ve got characters from the Joestar bloodline, like Jonathan and Joseph, as well as descendants such as Jotaro Kujo or his daughter Jolene Kujo. Make sense now?



So how much reading is there to do? 12

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Plenty. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure currently has eight distinct storylines. From the beginning to the current series in publication, you’ve got:









Each saga is its own story that can easily stand on its own, but they’re mostly connected to one another through overt and covert threads within the narrative.



So what’s the actual story about then?


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained




No, seriously (come on now)


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

No, really. It’s about Dio.

Phantom Blood chronicles the rise of Joseph Joestar and his adopted brother Dio Brando. Dio also happens to be one of the greatest raging dicks in all of anime, a selfish and ambitious bastard driven to find success by any means necessary. When his plan to murder the Joestar family and steal their inheritance is derailed by Jonathan, Dio instead finds the power he lusts for from another source: Vampirism, which he gains via a mask that aakens the hidden powers of the human mind. (Fig.)



Wait, he becomes an actual vampire?


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Oh yeah, and he is utterly thrilled at the transformation. Phantom Blood further details Jonathan’s battles with Dio, how he learns the ancient martial art of Hamon and evens the playing field against the bloodthirsty Dio, who happens to be an especially tenacious foe. He’s the kind of villain that you love to hate, and his presence within the JoJo universe carries on long after his final defeat. He really is a proper bastard though.



He can’t be that bad


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained


he burned Jonathan’s dog alive just so he could get back at him. (He’s a massive dick.)



And from there? 22

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Well... Battle Tendency takes place a few decades later during the start of World War II, as Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar encounters the Pillar Men, strange warriors from the dawn of time who happen to be able to shape and bend their own bodies in a manner that would make David Cronenberg proud. Stardust Crusaders takes place in 1989, as Joseph’s grandson Jotaro joins him on a quest to defeat a revived Dio once and for all. Stardust Crusaders is where the storyline introduces the most important element of the Jojo mythos: Stands. Then you’ve got Diamond is Unbreakable, set in 1999 and starring Josuke Higashikata as the illegitimate son of Joseph and his adventures in a town where Stand powers have begun to manifest. Vento Aureo follows the son of Dio in his quest to become an underworld boss, Stone Ocean stars Jolene Kujo



as she finds herself locked in prison in 2011 and Steel Ball Run reboots the saga entirely with an alternate timeline that just gets weird. And then there’s JoJoLion, which continues the storyline set in Steel Ball Run’s parallel universe but back in the town of Morioh, as a new Josuke seeks to prevent a curse from ruining his life. One other defining trait in JoJo stories? Don’t get too attached to the characters. Because more often than not, some of them don’t survive to see the story end.

And it’s still not over.


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

Geez... 25 25

Meet the JoJos...



Joseph Joestar

Josuke Higashikata





Jonathan Joestar

Kujo Jotaro






Jolyne Cujoh

Josuke Higashikata





Giorno Giovanna “VENTO AUREO”

Jonathan “Johnny” Joestar “STEEL BALL RUN”



Dial it back a bit, you kept mentioning Stands?


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Yes, Stands Imagine being able to manifest your own spirit, a guardian with supernatural powers that can protect you. Even better, only Stand Users can see and interact with other Stands, making them formidable and almost undetectable weapons. Stands also differ wildly in appearance, ranging from Humanoid creatures to guns to monsters that can be summoned at the drop of a hat. There’s no end to the variety of powers that they possess either, and it’s the application of those abilities that make them particularly dangerous.



What kind of power are we talking about here?

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Somethin’ Awesome Take the Stand of Jotaro for example here: On the surface, Star Platinum appears to be a burly human-like creature that possesses dazzling speed, power and precision. But later on in the JoJo saga, Jotaro manages to unlock an ability to stop time for several seconds with Star Platinum. Josuke’s Stand, Crazy Diamond, has the ability to has the ability to restore objects to their original form, while Jolene’s Stand Stone Free allows her to turn her body into elastic thread. It gets even wilder from there. Diamond is Unbreakable’s main villain Yoshikage Kira has a stand called Killer Queen which can create not only bombs from anything it touches but also traps an enemy in a timeloop where they’re fated to die every time. Stands are awesome.



Killer Queen? Crazy Diamond?

Sounds like somebody likes their rock music.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Oh man, and how. One of the joys of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is when you spot a reference to classic rock ‘n roll. Everybody from Bad Company to Pink Floyd pops up, with most Stands and their abilities named after popular groups and songs. Hirohiko Araki clearly has a love for the genre, with his work even referencing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Foo Fighters and the Goo Goo Dolls as time went on and new bands emerged. It’s rather great stuff if you’re into the alternative rock music of the 1990s.



What else makes JoJo unique?


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Style. Pure style. Hirohiko Araki uses a very varied palette, that plays havoc with the colours to incredible effect. The artwork alone is worth the price of admission, with Araki’s skill really shining from the Diamond is Unbreakable arc onwards. Oh, and also cool poses.




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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Of course There’s a running gag in JoJo where the characters constantly strike odd poses, and it has become somewhat of a meme in Japan and around the world for the fan communities. Seriously, check this out. And if that tickles your fancy, there’s even a posing school that you can attend to really learn how to nail a proper JoJo moveset.



I don’t feel like reading, so

please tell me that there’s an anime series or several for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Yes, yes you lazy person you. The first four sagas have been adapted for TV so far, although there does exist an earlier adaptation of the Stardust Crusaders saga from the mid-90s. It’s well worth watching the more modern adaptations however, which have plenty of episodes to binge and look fabulous in action. Phantom Blood clocks in at nine episodes, while Battle Tendency is covered from episodes 10-26 in the first season. Stardust Crusaders got a whopping 48 episodes over two seasons, with the latter half retitled as Battle for Egypt. Diamond is Unbreakable is still airing right now, with 38 episodes in the bag. You can check out CrunchyRoll if you feel like streaming them. And there’s also a live-action movie out now.




e r r a z i ’s B o J ut o o J b t A a ys Wh a S e r tu n e v d A


U C S A M by MFA Society

An exploration of masculinity and male genders roles in Japanese society throughout the years using parts 1-4 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.



an p a J in

Jonathan Joestar


& n a p a J s e l o R r Gende Japan & s e l o R r e Gend Joseph Joestar

Discussions on gender have often been dominated by a femalenarrative, not leaving any room to discuss the other side. Men have often been limited in how they are able to express themselves outside of stereotypical masculine behavior in the past, and Japan in particular has historically been very restricted in this regard. This is not to say that different types of sexuality were not widely accepted. Homosexuality in Japan has been recorded since the Heian


MASCULINITY in Japan period, and during the time of the samurai, homosexual relationships were rather common, but often in the context of master and apprentice and with a large age gap. The notable exceptions as far as gender expressions would be the kagema (male prostitutes) and kabuki (male theater actors), who often took on a very feminine appearance and demeanor. This had to do with the kagema often serving male customers and the kabuki often playing female roles.

It’s a show notorious for its male characters and how they express their “masculinity” in very unconventional and flamboyant ways. Japanese society is often very rigid and orderly and this was reflected in the people as well. What does JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure have to do with all this though? Well, it’s a show rather notorious for its male characters and particularly how they express their “masculinity” often in very unconventional and flamboyant ways. JoJo was also created over a long period of time from the 80’s, to this very day, and



set in various time periods. Although I will only be covering up to Part 4 which was only published until the mid 90’s. So what better way to discuss masculinity and gender roles in Japan than to look at how one of the most popular manga and anime franchises deals with them.



(Fig. 1) Jonathan Joestar practices Hamon (Phantom Blood)



Boys Be s u o i t i b Am Boys Be s u o i t i b Am Dio Brando

In the early parts of Japahistory we see a very strong focus on the military and the traditional nuclear family. The first 2 parts of Jojo do not take place in Japan, but in Pt. 1 we see a huge focus on positive traditional masculinity ideals represented by Jonathan and his father, as well as negative traditional masculinity represented by Dio and his father. nese

For the positive side we see things like honor, chivalry, stoicism, bravery and being humble. Dio on the


MASCULINITY in Japan other hand is mischievous, cunning, manipulative and arrogant. Jonathan is very much the boy scout that plays by the rules and does things fairly and justly, while Dio is always playing dirty and trying to cheat the system. These morals and values are very much shown to be passed down from father to son as Dio and Jonathan are not only foils to one another, but a reflection of each of their father’s moral values. Fathers were of course seen as the head of the household and highly respected. Although they did not often take part in the domestic labor of the household, they took great care to instill onto their offspring their set of values and beliefs that they would expect their children to also pass down and so on.

Jonathan [always] plays by the rules and does things fairly and justly, while Dio is always playing dirty and trying to cheat the system. Part. 2 on the other hand focuses very much on the military aspect of masculinity. The concept of man as a soldier or warrior has existed since the dawn of humanity. Masculinity and war were inexorably linked together. As a man you were expected to go to war and fight for your country, whether you wanted to or not as drafts have historically exclusively targeted ablebodied men. Not only this, but nationalism and fighting and dying for your country



was one of a greatest deeds you could accomplish as a man and is still seen an honorable act to this day.

[It] brought us the flamboyant Jojo posing based off poses from various fashion magazines and even Joseph cross dressing. During the 2nd Sino-Japanese Wars and WW2, Japan became a fearsome military superpower, conquering large portions of East Asia. Much of this militaristic nationalism can be found in the character of Stroheim, a Major in the Nazi army (Fig. 2). Joseph on the other hand is very cocky and somewhat arrogant, being based on various Harrison Ford characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones (you can see the influence from Indie in his Pt.3 costume). Pt. 2 also brought us the flamboyant Jojo posing based off poses from various fashion magazines and Joseph even cross dressing (Fig. 3) as we start to stray further from the traditional masculine archetype. We also see the emergence of the absentee father, which will be a recurring theme in Jojo as we move forward.



Another recurring theme will be a strong bond with the mother; as Lisa Lisa was integral to Joseph’s training. Without a father figure to pass on his morals we do not see the same positive traditional masculine traits being passed down to the newer Jojo’s. During times of war fathers are obviously not going to be around to raise their kids, which was the case for Joseph as his father was a British fighter pilot.

(Fig. 2) Cyborg Major Stroheim in Battle Tendancies

(Fig. 3) Joseph Joestar Crossdressing to bypass Germans



u o Y e r A h g u no Man E Are You ? h g u o n E Man Kujo Jotaro

Pt. 3 deals with a reduction in flamboyancy of the main character, considering Jotaro is very stoic in nature. He is said to be based on Clint Eastwood characters, mostly likely from his early work westerns. His character design also seems to be heavily based on Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. Much of the aesthetic for first 3 parts of Jojo is heavily influenced by 80’s era Hollywood action movies like Rambo, Predator, Terminator, and even Bruce Lee movies; large bulging muscles and body builder physics. In Pt. 4 the charac-



ters seem to lose their gym memberships and have a slimmer and more athletic build, which is more realistic considering the age of the characters. In Japan, the 80’s were a time of great economic prosperity which is reflected in the characters of Part. 3 and their confidence and swagger. As far as paternal relationships go, Jotaro’s father is a musician that is always on tour. Considering the harsh and demanding work life of Japan it is common that the working man will not have much time to spend with his family. Jotaro’s relationship with his mother seems somewhat strained, although he does seem to care a great deal for her considering that she is the driving force of the plot.

In Pt. 4 the characters seem to lose their gym memberships and have a slimmer and more [realistic] athletic build. After the American occupation and as Japan began to feel the effects of the economic bubble in the 80’s, we see many many rebellious forms of male expression and the one that is prominent in Pt. 3 and 4 of Jojo is that of the delinquent.



Delinquents in Japan are very anti-establishment and more or less the equivalent of American thugs. Sometimes also called yankiis (derived from the term Yankee) they were heavily influenced from American G.I’s. This idea of anti-establishmentarianism can be seen in the ever more elaborate ways that the typical military style school uniform is altered in Pt. 4. Okuyasu is the perfect example of a stereotypical mild-mannered and dim-witted Japanese delinquent (Fig. 4 top). Josuke as well embodies many of these delinquent traits (Fig. 4 bottom). Koichi on the other hand is very different from previous Jojo characters as he is lacking confidence and can even be recognized as an otaku considering his love for Rohan’s (a mangaka whom he befriends) manga. During this time, we see the rise of the working



single mother and more boys being raised in single mother households like Josuke. In addition, Kira (the main antagonist of Pt. 4) and Rohan (Fig. 5) seem to be very non-nonchalant about their lives, happy to just focus on their hobbies and remain single, compared to the typical Japanese salary man who is working ungodly hours and devoting his life to his career for his family.

(Fig. 4) Okuyasu (top) and Josuke (bottom)

(Fig. 5) Rohan Kishibe



t s u J s y Bo n u F e v a H Wanna

Boys Just n u F e v a H a Wann Giorno Giovana

Japan has changed a great deal over the years and this is reflected in the ways in which men express themselves. Japan has a very strict and demanding work ethic, sometimes even leading to karoshi, or death by overwork. It leaves men in particular very little time to spend raising their children and it is often the case that the women in the relationship stays at home and is in charge of financial matters and gives the man a small allowance to spend on himself. As the work ethic that has brought Japan so far ahead economically in the past is becoming too much for the new genera-


MASCULINITY in Japan tion, we are seeing burgeoning social movements like NEETs (Not in education, employment or training), Freeters (people who work various part-time and temporary jobs to make ends meet) and even Hikikomoris (Shut ins/recluses who often live off their parents income). There are even Herbivore men who have no interest in romantic relationships, girlfriends and marriage. Herbivore men also seem to be more preoccupied with their appearance, spending a lot of their money on beauty products.

Many men do not want to be the typical salary man working for a big corporation, and are instead choosing more carefree lives with greater freedom. As Japan’s economic and social landscape begins to change, more men are seen embracing different types of lifestyles. It is not surprising that many men do not want to be the typical salary man working for a big corporation, and are instead choosing more carefree lives with greater freedom. Much of the time these men are met with shame and ridicule, especially by Westerners who do not have the proper context of the situation.



Although there may be larger societal and economic consequences for men who do not fit the traditional mold of what a man should be, every man should have the freedom to express themselves how they want; whether that means playing video games in your mom’s basement or spending all your money on anime figurines and body pillows.

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(Fig. 6) Kars reveals his hair (Battle Tendancies)

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His Influence on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

This article analyses the influence of David Bowie’swork in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a manga known for its wealth of references to western popular culture. It is argued that David Bowie’s cultural reception can be attested via the presence of three narrative themes featuring in this manga series.




Intro Theory Prelims


Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (original JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken, henceforth JoJo) is an ongoing manga series that mostly features the adventures of the Joestar family and its members. Its serialisation started on the weekly magazine Weekly Shounen Jump in January 1987. The series switched to a monthly, ongoing schedule when transferred to Ultra Jump in February 2005. The series has been collected into 117 tankoubon as of June 2016 (Wikipedia 2016). JoJo started as an action manga featuring superpowered characters, with Fist of the North Star as a strong influence (original Hokuto no Ken, Thompson 2010) However, since its inception JoJo featured homages and references to a wealth of western artworks and


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

themes, blended with Japanese references and concepts. As the series progressed, this creative blend of heterogeneous themes increased in complexity, eccentrincity and popularity (Thompson 2010). Although JoJo began as a typical shōnen manga (i.e. action manga for boys: Shodt 1996: 26–28; Bryce & Davis 2010: 38– 39), the transition to Ultra Jump brought the series within a seinen (i.e. young men: Bryce & Davis 2010: 39–40) demographic and sensibility. Furthermore, as Araki acknowledged, the artistic methods and practices of his favourite artists, one example being Prince, strongly influenced JoJo’s artistic evolution (Araki 2016).


Araki’s goal as a mangaka was to

set himself apart from other manga artists by creating a unique style. David Bowie seems also to be another key influence, although an indirect one. Araki has often stated that his goal as a mangaka was to set himself apart from other manga artists by creating a unique style when he began in the late ‘70s (Araki 2006). David Bowie’s artistic trajectory also followed this goal, as his creation of several stage personae testify (e.g. the Thin White Duke; Stevenson 2006). Furthermore, direct references to Bowie’s works abound in JoJo, one example being the character Scary Monsters in its seventh story arc.



The influence of these artists on the series, however, has never been studied in detail. One reason lies in the general dearth of research about the multi-mediatic influence of artistic figures in comics, a situation that this special issue aims to rectify, at least for David Bowie. A second reason is that such forms of intertextuality have begun to be investigated only recently within comics studies (Kukkonen 2013: 10–16). Thus, an analysis of David Bowie’s artistic influence on JoJo is still outstanding. The goal of this article is to analyse this influence, as an exemplary but perhaps less known case of the impact that Bowie has had across different artistic media. Therefore, in pursuing this goal we aim to answer a central question: which of the themes composing Bowie’s artistic opus can be also found in JoJo, as Araki’s main opus. Before we do so, however we introduce and motivate the theoretical notions we adopt in our analysis. Our analysis is centered on three core notions which we define as follows.

Step 1: Comics as a System First, we follow Groensteen’s approach of ‘comics as a system’ (Groensteen 2007: 90–100; 2013: 130–140). Other approaches are possible (e.g. McCloud 1993 and Cohn


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

2014), but we do not discuss them here for space reasons. This approach treats comics as semiotic systems involving a visual and a textual modality. Their systematic nature emerges through the combination of different semiotic units (panels, pages, issues) that can be combined to form (possibly) coherent narratives. Hence, the different parts of a comic story are related to the story as a ‘whole’ (cf. also Cook 2011: 288–289).

It is well known Bowie explored dozens of concepts and themes throughout his career. Crucially, serialised and complete works can be considered independent systems, in which each issue or volume presents a part of the overarching narrative. Thus, we can talk of a series such as JoJo as a single, distinct comic/manga system, with its characteristic themes and narrative structures. Its structure is based on weekly/monthly issues, collected into tankoubon that cover several parts, or story arcs. The notion of ‘part’, specific to



the JoJo system, will be fully discussed in the next section, given its importance for the analysis.

Step 2: Intertextuality Second, we enrich this notion of system with Bateman’s approach to multimodality and intertextuality, and its application to comics (i.e. the so-called ‘GeM model’: Bateman 2008; Bateman & Wildfeuer 2014). Via this choice, we can make precise the notions that the Groensteen’s approach sketches only in an indirect manner. The GeM model introduces documents as units used to convey information amongst individuals (or ‘agents’). Documents that involve at least two distinct modalities are defined as multi-modal documents. The model uses the page as a basic unit realising a document. A multi-modal document can include a single page (e.g. a flyer), several pages (e.g. comic issues) and collections of connected pages (e.g. trade paperbacks). Furthermore, comics include panels as semiotic units, which can be conceived as the basic building blocks (Bateman 2008: 100–138; 170–176). Documents can convey coherent information when the different elements making up a document (e.g. text and illustrations within and across panels) establish thematically related semiotic relations. Intertextuality is then defined as a semiotic


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

relation between two different documents, whether this relation involves single panels, pages, chapters, or whole documents (Bateman 2008: 200–210). When this relation holds, one or more documents act as the ‘source’ documents (or ‘sources’), providing information that a reader can access, to fully interpret a ‘target’ document (or ‘target’). We thus say that the target document refers to its source documents for its interpretation. Intertextuality can also apply when the overarching narrative structure of a target document refers to a source document (e.g. Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey: Allen 2011: 130–155). In the ‘JoJo system’, one can find both types of intertextual relations. One example of the first case involves characters resembling other manga characters, actors and so on. One example of the second case involves story arcs/parts drawing inspiration from other literary works (e.g. part 3 and its plot resembling Stoker’s Dracula, but also the classic folktale Journey to the West: Thompson 2010).

Step 3: Explain Bowie as a Celebrity Third, we explain how David Bowie and his artistic opus have influenced JoJo, among other sources, by introducing the notion of celebrity. A celebrity is defined as a complex social and semiotic construct that an individ-



ual can act out, to cement and cultivate his popularity (Turner 2013: 62–75). Setting aside the dynamics of production and consumption processes for celebrities, celebrities can be considered as ‘polysemic social signs’. This because their polysemy, or multiplicity of possible meanings, lies in a celebrity’s ability to represent different themes and social roles for different social groups. Since these themes are not necessarily expressions of an artist’s ‘real’ personality (Turner 2013: 76–90), celebrities represent inherently fictional (or ‘fictionalised’, viz. David Bowie) characters that authors perform for public audiences.

Although an ever-popular series, few works have investigated JoJo in depth. Within a theory of multi-modality and intertextuality then, different celebrity meanings/ aspects provide intertextual sources for other targets. In the case of ‘David Bowie’, the celebrity that the artist David Bowie (born David Robert Jones) has nurtured over the decades, we can reason about ‘personae’ or identities that have punctuated Bowie’s artistic trajectory (e.g. Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke: Bowie 1972, 1976, Dixon 2013: 399; Toija & Redmon 2013: 379–380). Bowie has used these personae to introduce differ-


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

ent aesthetic choices, musical works and elements of reflection, during his artistic career (Usher & Fremaux 2013: 394). Thus, it should not be surprising that each persona has acted as an intertextual source for a wealth of multi-medial targets, including JoJo. It is well known Bowie explored dozens of concepts and themes throughout his career, even if three themes act as red threads connecting most of his artistic opus. The first theme pertains to Bowie’s drive to push the boundaries of innovation within each medium that he has explored. Bowie’s musical and cinematographic endeavours cover various shades of rock, pop, avant-garde and other music genres, and SF, horror, and biographic movies (Stevenson 2006). The second theme pertains to his choice of highly distinctive aesthetic creations. Bowie created flamboyant, unique, and perhaps eccentric characters such as Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust (Bowie 1972, 1973; Stevenson 2006: 26–50). The third theme, which emerged from the ‘Berlin trilogy’ period onwards (1977–1980), is that of a self-reflexive approach to the creation of identities (Brooker 2013: 390). Overall, Bowie has been an innovator of popular culture by building a complex ‘David Bowie’ celebrity sign over the decades.




Thus, our research question focuses on how, and to what extent, these themes can be said to also be JoJo-esque themes. We conclude this section by succinctly discussing previous research on JoJo, before moving to the analysis. Although an ever-popular series (or, perhaps, because of its popularity), few works have investigated JoJo in depth. Brief synopses of its overarching plot and themes have discussed JoJo as a complex, ever-evolving series (Thompson 2007; Thompson 2010). A recent essay has investigated Araki’s use of splash pages as a narrative tool in parts 1–3, suggesting that it is instrumental in creating a dynamic, epic presentation of key events (Pigeat 2011). Other works have investigated how the special issues featuring Rohan Kishibe, a popular co-protagonist from part 4, have used horror and fantasy themes (e.g. ghosts, zombies and museums: Flinn 2013: 72–74; Howell 2015: 420–424). However, none of these previous works have investigated JoJo’s intertextual relation to other cultural works, and certainly not its relation to Bowie’s. Thus, our analysis can be considered the first that addresses JoJo’s themes and influences.


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

Kira Yoshikage, vol. 37 p.2, vol. 9 of part 4 © Araki, Hirohiko & Lucky Land



The Analysis


JoJo is divided into parts, complete story arcs featuring each a distinct member of the Joestar family as the protagonist, and other family members and friends as possible coprotagonists. As of July 2016, seven parts have been completed, and an eighth part has reached its 55th monthly issue. Although each part can be read in relative isolation, the series forms an overarching narrative focused on the Joestars, their allies and enemies, and their bizarre adventures. The Joestars can be interpreted as heroes usually involved in journeys and fighting against villains/antagonists. However, their ‘tales’ cannot be easily reduced to a Campbellian model (Campbell 2008). For instance, each protagonist (usually nicknamed ‘JoJo’) seeks to defeat the current


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

antagonist to save his/her community, rather than to bring back a treasure. Parts 4 and 8 do not involve journeys, as the stories are set in a single city. Each antagonist is related to the JoJo protagonists, rather than an external threat to the communities that the JoJos wish to protect. The re-iteration of a protagonist type across parts, each with his/her unique personality and story, continues a method used in Osamu Tezuka’s mangas and Michael Moorcock’s fantasy/sci-fi works, to name a few (i.e. the ‘star system’ and ‘eternal champion’ cycles, respectively; McCarthy 2009: 20–33; Greenland 2013: 35–43). Although relevant, this theme does not play a crucial part in our discussion, hence we will not explore it in any further detail. The division of the series in distinct parts plays a key role in how Bowie’s first theme, the exploration of different genres and themes, plays a role in JoJo. First, Araki uses mainstream horror and actions themes in an innovative manner, by setting each part in a different historical setting. For instance, Part 1 is set in the Victorian England of 1890, and presents a Victorian-esque family feud between Lord Jonathan Joestar and his antagonist and step-brother, Diego ‘Dio’ Brando, who turns into a powerful vampire. Part 2 can be conceived as a dark pulp adventure set



in the 1930s, and part 3 as an action/journey adventure set in the 1980s. Part 4 marks a first departure from these themes, as its suburban, ‘slice-of-life’ setting (i.e. the Japanese ‘Morioh town’) also marks a shift towards subtler psychological characterisation and a different approach to action sequences. Parts 5 and 6 are crime fiction stories respectively set in Naples and its organized crime, and in a maximum-security prison in Florida. Part 7 is a re-interpretation of Jonathan Joestar’s part, couched in a Western setting, and part 8 a mystery/thriller re-interpretation of part 4.

Araki’s constant exploration of new themes across various genres echoes Bowie’s constant pursuit for musical and artistic innovation. A more radical innovation lies in the introduction of stands, powers that characters develop from part 3 onwards. Stands are manifestations of an individual’s spirit, aspirations and goals. Only few individuals (and some animals) of extraordinary determination develop stands. Some examples are the


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

Joestars, their allies and their antagonists. From part 4, stands are usually named after rock bands, albums and songs, e.g. King Crimson for Diavolo, part 5’s main antagonist, and Scary monsters for part 7’s antagonist Dio. Their powers become increasingly reality-defying. For instance, part 7’s main antagonist, U.S. president Funny Valentine, pursues a bright future for his country at all costs. Thus, he uses his stand Dirty deeds done cheap (from an AC/DC song) to move objects from parallel worlds to his own world, thereby manipulating the flow of events by any means possible. Given the complexity of stand powers and goals that JoJo characters usually carry, ‘fights’ have become increasingly creative and unique. For instance, part 8’s protagonist, the amnesiac Josuke Higashikata, uses the stand Soft and Wet (a homage to a Prince song) to remove one attribute to any object or individual that the stand’s ‘bubbles’ touch. He confronts Jobin Higashikata, one of the members of his adoptive family, in order to access more information regarding his own identity and past (vol. 110, vol. 8 of part 8). Jobin is only willing to give this information if he is beaten in a fight between trained beetles, a popular past-time for Japanese kids. Josuke uses his stand power to make the fighting arena unstable so that his beetle can win, and Jobin is forced to reveal this



crucial information. Overall, Araki’s constant exploration of new themes across various genres echoes Bowie’s constant pursuit for musical and artistic innovation. In blending different genres while narrating the Joestars’ adventures, Araki has always aimed at pushing the boundaries of the shōnen meta-genre beyond its traditional, fight-oriented model. In doing so, he parallels Bowie’s attempt to push the boundaries across media (e.g. music, cinema) and genres (e.g. rock, horror). Hence, we can say that both artists have acted as innovators within their respective artistic fields, during their careers. The second theme of Bowie’s opus, which focuses on the creation of highly distinctive visual identities for characters, can be found in JoJo as well, under two distinct but related aspects. The first aspect involves the wealth of direct intertextual references to the various David Bowie personae, including some of the cinematographic characters he played. The second aspect involves a strong penchant for designing characters wearing flamboyant and exotic dresses, a feature that has evolved over the years, as the series has developed in complexity and artistic freedom. As Araki continually evolves his drawing style, so his characters have evolved in design


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

complexity. Given the temporal dimension of this theme’s evolution and importance, we discuss each aspect and how it is realized in each part. In Part 1, Jonathan Joestar (‘JoJo’) and Dio Brando are introduced. Dio, the antagonist, appears as the earliest character acting as a clear reference to Bowie’s personae. While JoJo is the son of a wealthy baron, Dio grows up in poverty, victim of an alcoholic father whom he kills by poisoning him with a ‘fake’ medicament.

Dio, the antagonist, appears as the earliest character acting as a clear reference to Bowie’s personae. The Joestars adopt Dio but he decides to usurp Jonathan’s position as the family’s heir, thus developing a lust for power and control. Once he becomes in possession of the ‘stone mask’, a mysterious Mayan artefact, he becomes a powerful vampire and starts his century-long fight against the Joestars, ultimately resolved in part 6. Dio is presented as charismatic, twisted villain, hence its intertextual relation with David Bowie may not appear obvious at first




David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo



glance. Furthermore, since parts 1–3 feature a drawing style heavily reminiscent of Hokuto no Ken, all characters are extremely buff and with stereotypically masculine jaws. It is in part 3, set 100 years after part 1, that Dio begins to develop a more androgynous persona and appearance that better outline his similarity to two personae that Bowie created as an actor. First, as a vampire, Dio hides in the shadows of his base in Cairo and partly uses the suave mannerisms of ‘John’, the vampire from The Hunger, when he interacts with his minions. Second, when Dio engages in the final battle against the Joestars, his appearance bears more than a passing resemblance to Jareth, the dark Goblin king that Bowie impersonates in Labyrinth (1986, Fig. 1).

Original | PPTFigure 1 Dio is revealed (vol. 27, p.9, 1992, vol. 16 of part 3). The key elements of resemblance are the haircut and dress design, as the juxtaposed picture from Labyrinth (1986) shows. © Araki, Hirohiko & Lucky Land Communications/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Other elements bear more general connections to Bowie’s personae. For instance, his disturbingly magnetic charm and homoerotic


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

innuendos with his male underlings suggest that their loyalty is in part love for Dio, who also appears to have vague bisexual appetites. His intense emotive displays with enemies and subordinates alike hide an extremely cold and collected personality, vaguely reminiscent of the Thin White Duke persona. Dio, from part 1 to part 3, seems to capture a dark interpretation of some of Bowie’s personae up to the ‘80s, coupled with the intense charisma and ambiguity that pervades each of these personae.

Dio begins to develop a more androgynous persona and appearance that better outline his similarity to two personae that Bowie created as an actor. Other characters become the main antagonists in parts 4–6, even though Dio’s influence on the overarching narrative remains relevant. In part 5, the main protagonist is Giorno Giovanna, one of Dio’s illegitimate and estranged sons, who aims to become a stern but less morally compromised leader of Naples’ organized crime. Giorno does not bear a direct connection to Bowie, but his



allies and enemies’ fashion senses bear more than a resemblance to the eclectic outfits of earlier Bowie and Prince. Part 6 follows a similar tack, since flashbacks show that Dio acted as a companion and inspiration to father Pucci, the main antagonist opposing the protagonist Jolyne Kujo. Nevertheless, it is by part 4 that the central characters of each part, qua stand users, begin to display the emergence of a distinct Bowie-esque fashion sense permeating the series. Stand users have unique looks, mannerisms (e.g. poses) and stand powers that identify them as full-fleshed characters.

Jonathan and Gyro join Valentine and Dio in being indirect but explicit references to Bowie’s ‘classic’ looks and aesthetic style of the ‘70s–‘80s. The theme of aesthetic uniqueness permeates part 7, which presents a different of Jonathan Joestar’s story, now a U.S. jockey in a trans-continental horse race, the ‘Steel Ball run’. This part features Dio as a secondary antagonist, and the U.S. president Funny Valentine as the main antagonist. Both sport flamboyant looks, long blond hair and, in


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

the case of Valentine, a disturbingly charming personality. This part’s version of Dio has a stand called Scary Monsters, an obvious homage to Bowie’s classic work (Bowie 1980), which allows Dio to transform into a velociraptor-like creature. The two protagonists Jonathan and Gyro (Zeppeli) join Valentine and Dio in being indirect but explicit references to Bowie’s ‘classic’ looks and aesthetic style of the ‘70s–‘80s (Fig. 2).

Original | PPTFigure 2 Left side: Valentine (left) and Bowie (right) (vol. 95, p.1, 2008, vol. 15 of part 7). Notice Valentine’s pose mirroring a classic Bowie pose, as the figure on the right shows (Bowie n.d.). © Araki, Hirohiko & Lucky Land Communications/Getty Images.

Furthermore, part 7 crystallizes two changes in Araki’s drawing style that finds inspiration



in a Bowie-esque aesthetics. First, by part 7 most characters are relatively slender and with androgynous body features. Second, stand users wear flamboyant dresses that stand out, given the historically-oriented setting of the story (U.S., 1890). Thus, by part 7 JoJo seems to truly represent a comic counterpoint to Bowie’s aesthetic style and unicity.

Yoshikage is the closest homage to David Bowie ; specifically the ‘Thomas Jerome Newton’ persona and The Man who fell on Earth Parts 4 and 8 deserve to be singled out, since they present the closest renditions of Bowie characters in the series. Their protagonist and antagonist are respectively Josuke Higashikata and Yoshikage Kira. Josuke is based on the Prince persona during his period with the New Power Generation (Prince and The New Power Generation, 1991), while also blending elements of popular youth culture of the time (e.g. the yanki or ‘delinquent’ look, based on a pompadour and oversized school uniforms: Shodt 1996: 45–48). Part 4 also inaugurates the trend of charac-


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

ters dressing in flamboyant and androgynous styles. Josuke and his friends wear school uniforms with complex and unique designs, and Jotaro Kujo, the protagonist from part 3 returning as a secondary character, wears allwhite suits with ankle-length jackets. Stand users, as distinctive characters in the story, always wear unique, highly creative dresses and always have stand powers named after rock bands (e.g. Red Hot Chili Peppers: vol. 29). Crucially, Yoshikage is the closest homage to David Bowie in the series, specifically to the ‘Thomas Jerome Newton’ persona from the Berlin and The Man who fell on Earth period (’76 to ’80: The man who fell on Earth, 1976). Yoshikage is blond with blue eyes, always dresses elegant formal suits, and is obsessed with being an average individual who never stands out. This desire clashes with his ruthless killing habits: Yoshikage is a dangerous serial killer. His stand, Killer Queen, bears the name of a Queen’s song, and vaporizes any object it touches. Yoshikage uses it to kill women and take their left hands as ‘girlfriends’, preserving them in jars when they begin to rot. Yoshikage’s looks are not the only visual reference to the two Bowie’s personae, since the stand Killer Queen has the same feline eyes and glacial expression of Thomas (Fig. 3).



Original | PPTFigure 3 Yoshikage and his stand (vol. 33, p. 150, 1993, vol. 5 of part 4), juxtaposed with Bowie’s Newton character (Newton n.d.). Note that Yoshikage dresses in a formal style that Bowie often adopted during the ‘80s–‘90s. © Araki, Hirohiko & Lucky Land Communications/British Lion films.

As in the case of Dio, Yoshikage represents a re-interpretation of a Bowie persona. Unlike Dio, however, he represents a much darker and more original re-interpretation. Bowie’s Newton persona acts as a tragic anti-hero of his story, whereas Yoshikage is a ruthless serial killer and the lethal antagonist to the JoJos. Part 8, known as JoJolion, is a re-interpretation of part 4, borrowing elements from parts 2 and 3. The now amnesiac Josuke attempts to discover his past, while at the same time trying to discover the secrets behind Morioh and its post-Earthquake bizarre architecture. Even if ongoing, part 8 has featured a further elaboration of a Bowie-esque aesthetics,


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

and an interesting twist on the use of Bowie personae. ‘Josuke’ is actually the result of a mysterious process that merges individuals and objects. Yoshikage and Josefumi Kujo, his friend, have been merged into his current persona and body, as testified by his halfblue, half-brown irises, split along the vertical axis. In investigating his past, Josuke discovers that actions from his two personalities set in motion the events described in the story and connect him to the main antagonists of the story, the so-called ‘rock men’. One interpretation of a Bowie persona (Yoshikage) is merged with an interpretation of a Prince persona (Josefumi), co-existing in the same character. Part 8 also continues the aesthetic approach inaugurated in part 7, with the Yagashikata family members playing a crucial role. Josuke always wears a sailor uniform with baggy trousers. The youngest Higashikata member, Tsurugi, is a boy cross-dressing as a girl, thus hoping to avert the curse afflicting his family’s male members. His father Jobin wears hairpins to block his hair, and his grandfather Norisuke IV wears dreadlocks with bigsized pearls as accessories. The other family members similarly display exotic dresses and elaborate make-ups and hairstyles, irrespective of their gender. The antagonist ‘rock men’ also display elaborate, androgynous fashion senses. Thus, parts 7 and 8 can be



said to continue the trend of a Bowie-esque aesthetics, which in turn is the quintessentially JoJo-esque visual identity. More in general, though, Bowie’s aesthetical choices have played a clear influence on JoJo as a series with a unique, fashion-conscious style. The third theme, which pertains to Bowie’s creations as involving a degree of self-reflexivity, requires a qualification before being discussed in its possible influence on Araki’s work. It is perhaps obvious that JoJo and its protagonists and antagonists alike are not conceived as (stage) personae that Araki created and impersonated over the decades, unlike Bowie’s personae. This difference should not be surprising, since the media in which Araki and Bowie’s characters exist (i.e. manga vs. music and cinema) have obvious structural and semiotic differences. Nevertheless, there are some clear parallels between how the different incarnations of ‘JoJo’ and David Bowie license this degree of self-reflexivity. The overarching story underpinning JoJo can be also seen as an exploration on the themes of ‘hero’, ‘will’ and ‘legacy’ (cf. Araki 2006). In part 1, Jonathan strives to become an ideal gentleman, and only becomes a hero because of his ties to Dio, who follows a downward spiral of villainous behaviour. Various events set in motion Jonathan’s short quest to defeat Dio, an act that is heroic as


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

far as it prevents Dio from expanding his influence. In part 2, Joseph is aware of his grandfather’s destiny and the ‘curse’ that Joestars have to carry. However, Joseph is not willing to engage his destined battle against his antagonists until this decision becomes necessary. His being ‘the present JoJo’ brings him to question what fate lies for him (vol. 7, pp. 12–13). In part 3, Jotaro Kujo becomes the third family member to carry the ‘JoJo’ role. However, when discussing the Dio threat with his grandfather Joseph, his grandson Jotaro is in disbelief of the ‘alleged fate’ he must accomplish (vol. 12, pp. 14–20). The Joestars are generally sceptic of their own future as heroes and only focus on their current role as a necessary test to overcome. This theme develops in importance as the story unfolds, for parts 4 to 6 involve a new generation of JoJo protagonists who develop an increasing scepticism towards their role. Josuke’s indirect affiliation to the Joestars is also reflected in the fact that he confronts Yoshikage only to save his hometown. Giorno, instead, aims and succeeds to become a (benevolent) villain, as befits to the son of Dio, the quintessential villain. Jolyne, in part 6, is estranged from his father Jotaro Kujo, and explicitly rejects her family role (‘don’t call me JoJo. Only my mother calls me JoJo’: vol. 64, p. 89). However, she finds himself fighting against the most powerful antagonist, Pucci,



far as it prevents Dio from expanding his influence. In part 2, Joseph is aware of his grandfather’s destiny and the ‘curse’ that Joestars have to carry. However, Joseph is not willing to engage his destined battle against his antagonists until this decision becomes necessary. His being ‘the present JoJo’ brings him to question what fate lies for him (vol. 7, pp. 12–13). In part 3, Jotaro Kujo becomes the third family member to carry the ‘JoJo’ role. However, when discussing the Dio threat with his grandfather Joseph, his grandson Jotaro is in disbelief of the ‘alleged fate’ he must accomplish (vol. 12, pp. 14–20). The Joestars are generally sceptic of their own future as heroes and only focus on their current role as a necessary test to overcome. This theme develops in importance as the story unfolds, for parts 4 to 6 involve a new generation of JoJo protagonists who develop an increasing scepticism towards their role. Josuke’s indirect affiliation to the Joestars is also reflected in the fact that he confronts Yoshikage only to save his hometown. Giorno, instead, aims and succeeds to become a (benevolent) villain, as befits to the son of Dio, the quintessential villain. Jolyne, in part 6, is estranged from her father Jotaro Kujo, and explicitly rejects her family role (‘don’t call me JoJo. Only my mother calls me JoJo’: vol. 64, p. 89). However, she finds herself fighting against the most powerful antagonist, Pucci,


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

for two reasons. The first is a desperate attempt to save his father and reconcile with him, and the second is to avoid father Pucci’s ultimately successful attempt to re-write reality and the future, according to his idea of fate. Thus, the JoJos develop an understanding of their role as heroes and, at the same time, a sceptic attitude towards this role. If the future and fate of the JoJos is one in which they must fight against dangerous enemies such as Dio, Yoshikage, Diavolo, Pucci and Valentine, then the JoJos would rather avoid such a future. This echoes Bowie’s take on his role as a celebrity, and his approach to this role as one that anticipates the zeitgeist of the time. Identities and roles, in JoJo as in Bowie’s opus, are inherently temporary and inter-related, but nevertheless function as roles that individuals perform on a fictional stage. Grander philosophical themes are, for the most part, taken with a sceptical attitude (Brooker 2013: 391). With this point in mind, we move to the conclusions.





The objective of this article has been to analyse Bowie’s influence on the manga JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. As this discussion suggests, the intertextual relation between JoJo’s and Bowie artistic works with respect to the third theme is indirect. Nevertheless, Bowie and Araki’s characters display a central awareness of their transient role as characters, and temporary realisations of a more abstract prototype (e.g. ‘the artist’ and ‘the hero’). Their scepticism towards a predesigned future can be thus seen as the core of the self-reflexivity theme that emerges in both works, thereby creating an intertextual relation as a parallel between the two works. We can therefore answer our central question as follows. The three Bowian themes of pushing genre boundaries, creating unique and flamboyant aesthetic identities for characters and personae, and pursuing a degree of selfreflexivity can be found in JoJo, as themes


David Bowie’s Influences on JoJo

at least indirectly inspired by Bowie’s artistic endeavours. By offering this answer, we have reached our goal of analysing Bowie’s intertextual influence on JoJo.

David Bowie drawn in Hirohiko Araki’s art style by Sakumi, 2014






JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

Prince and his Influnce On Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Dexter Thomas


ore than a week after his death, Prince is everywhere. Artists the world over counted him as an influence and mentor, and Japan is no exception. When news of Prince’s death broke, Japanese musicians, from pop idols to rappers, tweeted their goodbyes. But what a lot of people may not realize is that Prince also had profoundly affected one of the most bizarre comic and anime franchises Japan has ever produced – a series called, appropriately enough, “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.” The series isn’t quite as popular as titles like “One Piece” or “Dragon Ball Z,” but it has been running since 1985, spawned video game and novel spinoffs and produced a serious cult following. And the series creator, Hirohiko Araki, is an indisputable Prince fan.

99 99


If you’re a fan of “Jojo,” you already know what I’m talking about. The series, which has been running since 1985, has an indescribable funkiness to it – characters stand in amazing poses, the dialogue is always somehow off-kilter, and the costumes look like something right out of a Prince stage set. But it’s probably easier to talk about the main character, Josuke, (page X) who actually looks a bit like Prince. Josuke also seems to have a fondness for purple and has two symbols pinned to his collar: the “peace” symbol Prince used in the title of his movie “Sign o’ the Times,” and another symbol that looks suspiciously like the one Prince used when he changed his name. Also, Josuke’s hobbies are listed as “playing video games and listening to Prince CDs,” which, incidentally, also sounds a little like my childhood. Then there’s the fact that one of the special powers in “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” is called “Gold Experience,” after Prince’s 1995 album of the same name. It’s a little hard to explain what this special power (technically called a “stand” in the series) is, but we’ll gve it a shot. Gold Experience (page X) can endow anything its fists touch with life, which translates into a variety of different effects.


It’s probably easier to talk about Josuke, who actually looks a bit like Prince.



This ability’s most featured use is converting inorganic objects into living organisms, be it an animal or a plant. For instance, it can transform a piece of luggage into a frog[2] or a lighter into a rose[3]. The lifeforms can persist over a long time and even a significant distance from Giorno. He can also freely cancel it and return an object to its original inorganic state. Unlike some actual Prince comic books, the musician never appears in the series as himself. But his presence is felt. In interviews, Araki has said Prince was his favorite artist. In the credits section of each installment of the comic series, he constantly made references to Prince, recommending that readers buy Prince albums or lamenting that a Prince concert for which he’d bought tickets had been postponed. He’s also said that he listens to Prince while drawing his comics. But if there had been any doubt about the level of Araki’s fanaticism, there’s that time in 2014 when Prince’s movie “Sign o’ the Times” had a 25th anniversary theater run in Japan. By this point, Araki’s Prince obsession was so widely known that theaters distributed pamphlets containing an extended interview with the comic book artist.


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained

One of the special powers in “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” is called “Gold Experience,” after Prince’s 1995 album of the same name.



Here’s a translated excerpt: More than the superficial visuals, I was inspired by Prince’s rhythm. His rhythm is weird, so it’s the type that’s the hardest to sing at karaoke. Just when you think he’s just calmly keeping the rhythm, he just suddenly switches it up. … When I draw my comics, I try to do the same thing. So when the first episode ends, and when the second episode starts, and all of a sudden it’s a completely different setting – for me, that’s very Prince-like, when I suddenly break the flow and make the reader go, “Wait, what?” And honestly, when I suddenly drag the reader into another world … I worry that they’ll get confused and maybe my popularity will suffer. But then I think, “Prince is here, so it’s OK!” [laughs]. Prince – that’s a person that really knows no fear. So far, Araki hasn’t released a public statement about Prince’s death. He doesn’t seem to be directly involved with the dayto-day running of his official website, and he’s notoriously dismissive of social media like Twitter. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a Prince tribute shows up in a future episode of the series.


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Explained “I want Prince to always be an artist, to always keep making wonderful works of art...

...The thing that makes me happiest is the fact that he keeps releasing albums.”

Hirohiko Araki 105


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Renowned artist and ageless wunderkind Hirohiko Araki (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Baoh, Steel Ball Run) recently gave a lecture at Tokai Junior & High School in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, as part of their Saturday Program series, as transcribed/ compiled by @JOJO, Japan’s premier site for Jojo-related news. Due to its length this entry will be broken into 3 parts.



Part I : His Past & Motives


Part II: Drawing Manga, Araki Style


Part III: Q&A w/ Araki-Sensei




His Past And Motives The lecture hall was filled to its 1,500 person capacity. There were so many people that there was a delay while people moved in and out of the hall, and the lecture began 15 minutes later than planned, at 12:45. 12:45: The Lecture Hall After a student MC introduces Mr. Araki and his body of work, he abruptly pops up on stage, at which time the hall erupts into



a deafening round of applause. Mr. Araki, quite nervous at the reception, immediately has a slip of the tongue, saying “I’m a little honored to meet all of you today.” “I’m a little, no quite messed up. I feel like I’ve met an entire lifetime’s worth of people today.” Although he claims that he is not a performer, and asks not to expect laughs, he claims “I’m just going to meander along today,” scoring some unintentional laughs. [Reason For Accepting The Invitation] Araki, who marks his 25th year as a manga artist this year, used to dislike (from well over a decade ago) being told “I used to read your comics!” “I was a fan when I was young!” etc, since it stirred fears within him that perhaps he was getting old, and becoming irrelevant. But in the past 5 years or so, he has had a gradual change of heart, and has begun to enjoy and appreciate the accolades he gets, especially from older people and people in esteemed positions in society.

He arrived today to this circus, and thought, “this wasn’t what I signed up for.” Also, when he was younger he may have been writing manga to benefit himself and


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

his publisher’s bottom line, but now he has a slightly different point of view and wants to give back to people, especially younger people. That’s when he got an invitation from Saturday Program, and, figuring it would probably just be a classroom of 3040 people, he said “sure, I’ll do it.” However, he arrived today to this circus, and thought, “this wasn’t what I signed up for.” (audience bursts into laugher) [Motives For Drawing Manga, Family, Days of Youth] Young Araki lived with his father, an office worker, his mother, a stay-at-home mom, and younger identical twin sisters. Those sisters were quite a handful: for example, if there were 3 snacks, the sisters, upon arriving home first, would eat all 3, and then proceed to conceal any traces of evidence. Growing up, young Araki, thinking that there weren’t any snacks, “would think ‘man, I’m hungry’ and go chew on something like a really old piece of kamaboko.” (audience bursts into laughter).

He figures that had he not started drawing manga, he “might have gotten out of hand and killed my sisters.”



And when his sisters’ evil doings came to light, a fight would erupt; and this would occur on a daily basis. (yet more laughter) He would often feel such a sense of exclusion and ill-will towards his sisters that he didn’t want to come home. He used to find relief in spending time along in his room, reading classic manga from the 70’s and his father’s collection of art books, which he supposes was his motive for drawing manga. He figures that had he not started drawing manga, he “might have gotten out of hand and killed my sisters.” (laughter) [Days of Submissions and Rejections] He attended a prep school through junior high and high school, but a friend complimented him on the manga he drew (apparently he drew his first manga while he was in 4th grade), which made him think that if his very first fan thought he was good, he might want to become a manga artist. So, he began to secretly draw manga when his parents were not looking. He first began submitting his work during his first year of high school; however, all of his submissions were rejected. At the same time, a rash of artists who were the same age (Yudetamago) or younger than him (Masakazu Katsura)


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

continued to make big splashes with their debut. But Mr. Araki could not understand why he was rejected, and decided to finish off a submission on an all-nighter and go on a 4-hour trip to pay a visit to the editors in Tokyo, and to ask them for an explanation. At first he intended to visit Shogakukan, which published Shonen Sunday, but he was intimidated by the size of their building, and decided to take his submission into the smaller Shueisha building next door. It was noon when he visited, but one rookie editor (about 6’2”, or 185cm, tall) happened to be there, so he showed him

At first he intended to visit Shogakukan, but he was intimidated by the size of their building, and decided to take his submission into the smaller Shueisha building next door. his work. However, the editor, after reading the first page, promptly quipped “your white-out’s leaked (you haven’t fixed it)”: he was criticized every time the editor flipped through each page; Mr. Araki, already exhausted from having been up all night, felt like he was going to pass out. However, after he was finished, he was told that it might be



good, and was immediately told to fix it up for the Tezuka Awards in 5 days. That submission was “Buso Poker (Armed Poker)”, which won was the runner-up prize at the Tezuka Awards. The Jump Editors At The Time Were Really Scary At the time, Mr. Torishima (Akira Toriyama’s editor, and inspiration for the Dr. Slump character Dr. Mashirito) would take submissions out of their envelopes, glance at the folder, promptly go “I don’t want to see this style!” and order a rewrite. Apparently, he wanted people to draw in such a way that looking at the cover was enough to make people want to read the manga. The editorial department as a whole was always on edge at the time. But he also mentioned in the latter half of his lecture that manga editors were like golf caddies; they provided objective information like “why don’t you hit this way” or “you’re X meters away from the green” and that he appreciated them. He also said that people who wanted to become manga artists had to get along with editors.


[His editor] wanted people to draw in such a way that looking at the cover was enough to make people want to read the manga.






Drawing Manga,

Araki Style 10 Meters Drawing styles which are so distinctive that you can look at a person from 10 meters away and go, “oh hey, he’s reading that manga” are incredible: Araki managed to make his debut, but didn’t feel like he had that unique style. And so from 1981 onwards he started thinking about how he could achieve that distinctive style, something that would make people think “oh, that’s him!”



The World’s Most Simple Drawing (Showing a blank piece of paper) If you told your art teacher “this is a drawing of ‘snow” he would be very upset at you, but in manga you could say this was “the flash from a nuclear bomb” or “my soul is barren” and that would fly. And here Mr. Araki drops a bomb: “there are people who get paid for stuff like this.” (audience bursts into laughter) “It’s amazing, really. You know, like....I guess I could get in trouble for mentioning names.” (more laughter) [note: probably in reference to Shaman King, which printed a blank 2-page pullout to supposedly express an “incredible move”]

If you told your art teacher “this is [blank paper] is ‘snow” he would be very upset at you, but in manga you could say this was “the flash from a nuclear bomb” and that would fly. “And coloring the page all black, and saying “he went to hell.” Sort of like in the last few chapters of Death Note.” (audience goes into hysterical laughter, applause) Mr. Araki tried to patch things up by claiming that he was joking, but could not help


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

further mentioning how much per page said-artists were probably paid for those particular pages. The Ultimate Character Araki introduces modern abstract art such as Barnett Newman’s (gallery/wiki) drawing of an orange square on a piece of canvas, Agness Martin’s drawing of nothing but a pencil line on white canvas etc. And then he drew the following, calling it the ultimate simple, ideal character in manga anybody could draw:

“I might get in trouble for displaying this in public.” – Araki He also introduced things like the smiley face and Morizo and Kiccoro (Mr. Araki thought that Akira Toriyama had designed



them), and explained that he respected these types of drawings that anybody could recognize, and that it was what he aspired for. “It’s incredible. It’s the ultimate style.” Gauguin Gaugin’s art, while having depth, also did things like contain certain colors within certain areas, paint the ground pink and the trees blue etc. Araki loved Gauguin’s art ever since he was a child, and has been deeply influenced by him. When Jojo became an OVA, one of the animators asked Araki “what color is Jotaro?” however Araki had no such concept. He colors everything based on calculation. For example, in Volume 54 Giorno’s clothes are pink, but in Volume 63 they are blue. Also, regarding the color cover illustration, he explains that placing the color blue beside pink exudes more power. He says that he gets his inspiration from 80’s art, shading techniques in Western art, classical paintings and gets inspiration for his various poses from sculptures. All of this research, blended with Araki’s own personality, result in Jojo’s art style.

[Araki] colors everything based on calculation.


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

Aim & Direction (Araki shows a diagram mapping the world of manga, broken into 4 quadrants with the X-axis labeled “Using classical methods to portray reality” and “Impressionist markings and symbolic fantasy” and the Y-axis labeled “Treating introspective themes such as inner emotions as the central focus” and “Putting weight on the plot structure. “Suspense” and “creating a sense of the world”)

If you don’t think about “where you stand,” you won’t have any sense of direction even after you become a mangaka, wandering from idea to idea, not knowing what you want to write about and ending up becoming one of those people who asks their editor “what should I write?” In the case of Jojo, Araki is trying to pursue reality by



portraying things with classical methodology, but he gives precedence to emotion and inner thought over plot structure, trying to portray the protagonists’ destiny, so he ends up in the bottom-left quadrant. The Theme is “Mystery” Araki was fascinated by mysteries ever since he was a child, fantasized about deserted islands and believed that King Kong and Nessie existed, and so writes his manga with “mystery” as the central theme. In Jojo, Araki wondered what “superpowers” really were, and if he could portray “energy” itself, which lead to Parts 1&2, and the Stands in Part 3, which were like guardians who could “destroy boulders and stuff.” They would “stand” by their master and would be called “stands.” Apparently Part 3 began immediately after Part 2 with no interval in between. Like an RPG or Board Game At the time, the “pyramid (tournament) formula” (A would fight & defeat B, then fight stronger character C, and on and on) was all the craze in Shonen Jump. But, Araki wondered, how strong could they get? Wouldn’t the entire system collapse as soon as you reached the top, much like the economic bubble of the 80’s in Japan?


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

It wasn’t like there could be an infinite number of levels of strength. So, he decided to create an RPG/board game-style system where characters traveled to different places to fight enemies, as seen in Jojo Part 3, where the protagonists traveled across Egypt while battling enemies.







Q&A with

Araki-sensei *The questions (and Araki’s answers) contain many references to Araki’s works, some knowledge of JoJo and Araki’s other series may be required. [13:38: Questions for Araki Sensei] From now on the lecture will be a discussion between Araki-sensei and the students of Tokai Junior & High School. Since there were a lot of questions, they’ll be summarized and presented together in a certain order.



“When You Were Young, What Was Your Source of Inspiration?” “Manga, movies... I didn’t have any collections; neither did I have any ‘solid’ objects like plastic models. I enjoyed drawing pictures. I was a boy who wanted to live in a world of fantasy with movies and novels. (When asked what influenced his works) “After achieving success, respecting my sempai was the most important thing for me. It all started with Da Vinci - reading about such people was very important for me. I learned about the things they mastered, and through their discoveries, I found my own answer. As for manga I read when I was a boy, the most significant one was Kajiwara Ikki/ Nagayasu Takumi’s Ai to Makoto (Love and Truth), the scene where the protagonist is stabbed by a knife... although the manga ended in the next issue (a January New Year’s double issue), it was still a rather extraordinary experience for me. When I was in middle school, I joined the kendo club because of Tetsuya Chiba’s kendo manga Ore wa Teppei (I’m Teppei).”

“The Model for Morioh Town, Sendai City”


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

*Morioh Town is a town in JoJo, while Sendai is Araki’s hometown. “Sendai, when I was a kid, was an old and historical city. Since the ‘80s, construction began on a new residential district. The new houses were beautiful, but strangers from who-knows-where were scary, and those personal experiences have been tied together with the town itself.” “Well, I don’t think there are any homicidal maniacs, but...” (Everyone starts a roar of laughter). Of course, Araki-sensei likes his hometown very much, but he was intimidated by the rapid increase in stragers, maybe Morioh Town was made based on his “disdain” of that situation. Of course, using the real name of the city in his manga may anger people, so Araki-sensei changed the name to something else. #Also refer to Kahoku Shinpou: Araki Hirohiko’s “Buried Gold Requires Daily Expedition” and Araki Hirohiko’s talk-essay “My manga are the ‘outcries of my heart’”

“What About Love and Passion?” Although he went a boy’s school, he had a girlfriend. “There’s not much to add, since



it’s what causes the most problems in today’s relationships” (everyone starts a roar of laughter). #By the way, Araki-sensei is married, and according to an interview from “Weekly Shounen []”, Araki met his first love during his first year in high school, and his preference for the opposite was “a woman who is not ladylike.”

“What Model Did You Base Your Protagonists On?” “Eeeeh?” Araki-sensei appears worried. There was no model, but there were influences from “muscle movies” such as “Rambo” and “Terminator.” Jotaro Kujo (a character from JoJo) feels like Clint Eastwood: he doesn’t run, his movements are minimal and he’s a silent person. “On the other hand, the Stands are fast.” The personalities of protagonists’ from each part are different. After drawing Part I, I wanted to do something I haven’t done before. (1st Part: Serious --> 2nd Part: A crazy person)

“Airin = Gorgeous Airin?” What is the relationship between Airin of Gorgeous Airin and the Airin who made


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

his appearance in the last part of “JoJo 6” (Stone Ocean Volume 17)? “I was just having a good time, there is no deep meaning behind it, I’m sorry.” (Everyone laughs).

“About the Ability of ‘Time’” The most powerful technique: “Time”. Stopping it, returning to the past, watching the future... if there were people who can control such a thing, they’d be invincible. For a main character with powers that aren’t invincible, I want to have people wonder how such a character could win. The ability to control physical things, such as gravity, is also very powerful. From Araki Hirohiko/Shibasaki Tomoka’s Osaka University of Arts, College Manga Vol. 4: Araki: About time, when I think about it, it’s incredibly powerful. You can do things like repeating the same morning over and over, stopping time while jumping, and the people who become visible only at a particular time, etc. But if I used that concept every time, someone would say: “Is JoJo only about ‘time’?” So... (laughs).



Shibasaki: Is it because you’re interested in the representation of time? Araki: it’s an interesting and powerful concept. To what extent is it changing? Is the other side of the earth being affected by it as well? And things like that. Shibasaki: What is the maximum affected range when time is stopped? Araki: All the way out into space. Speaking of which, what kind of energy would that be?

“Joseph Joestar” And now the ‘forbidden question’: “Why, as an old man, is Joseph such a lustful man?” “Although JoJo was a story that ended naturally after Part 3, I asked myself: ‘should I draw a 4th part? There shouldn’t be anymore Jojo!’” (Everyone laughs). Since I didn’t know what would happen in the future, even though I wanted to keep his personality, the personality did match up with his age (Joestar is an old man in Part 4).



Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

When asked about the reason why he’s only focusing on the story of the “Joestar family”, according to Araki, going back, back, way back, all the way to the origin of the family lineage, his character’s lineage gives him a feeling of pride - the wonder and the mystery that exists within the “lineage”. “I put more importance on such things than others (said with a serious tone). “If You Can Describe Manga in A Single Word” Troubled by the question, Araki replied: “my combined feeling would be ‘the salvation of the heart’? I think it’s very important.”

“Western music and its influence” Using names from Western music to name his characters and “Stands” is a “simple hobby” for Araki. It’s also a way to pay his respect towards rock artists. “But the fact that nowadays there aren’t many names of bands to use is becoming a problem”. (Everyone starts a roar of laughs). The imitative sounds of Jojo is also influenced by music (This was said on “Weekly Shounen []”as well). While on the subject, according to SOUL’d OUT, their music is influenced



by JoJo. So while “JoJo” is influenced by Rock, it is also influencing “Rock”!

“About the Change in Design” When asked about his designs that continue to change, Araki replied that since he’s not trying to draw using classical techniques, the designs won’t be the same, and usually experience rapid changes. “I’m not concerned about the old drawings (assertion).” Though the readers may get confused, I wonder if they will forgive me”. #It has also being reported that in Hirohiko Araki’s collection of short stories Gorgeous Airin, the illustration of Airin that was drawn for Ultra Jump in 2003, was originally a character drawn in 1985 as an entirely different person. At that time, the comment from UJ PRESS was: “I can’t draw in my old style anymore”.

“You Stopped Drawing Your Self-Portrait” Often fan letters would ask: “Please take out that character from the manga”, but since the character is almost complete, I don’t want to take it out, and that is all. Although “Baoh the Visitor” ended as


Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

though it will later continue, but... “If you can describe JoJo in a single word” To a question that he hates to answer, Araki-sensei’s answer was: “’The enigma of human beings’, it’s something I wanted to draw”. As a human who works with a theme that will last for an eternity, that’s all. Moreover, the manga is also being drawn for people who have committed crimes, it will make them think: “How did I become like this? Is there a meaning in this existence?” It’s a “eulogy of human”.

Conclusion And so the time has come, the last words from the moderator, and the falling of the curtain. The clock says it is 2:05 PM on June 24th, 2006. An event of about 1 hour and 20 minutes long, but to Araki’s fans, without a doubt it was a “golden personal experience.” Escorted by applause heavy as thunder, Araki-sensei disappeared behind the curtain with a smile on his face.





v r e t n


ir k a ato

rre Cre A tu o n k ve i d h A

o rre a r iz i B H ’s jo



Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

w e i v

by Casey Lee Mitchem & Rebecca Silverman

You may know him best as the creator of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but there’s more to Hirohiko Araki than that one series. Araki began actively attempting to publish manga in high school, pursuing his chosen career relentlessly before finally breaking through with the one-shot Poker Under Arms in 1981. Over the years, Araki has developed his technique into something he calls “the royal road to creating manga,” which he outlines in his nonfiction work Manga in Theory and Practice, recently published in English by Viz.

Almost more than his manga, this writing guide offers insight into the breadth and depth of Araki’s knowledge, and the advice he gives is useful to anyone pursuing a creative career in writing or sequential art. Araki’s

admiration of Hemmingway’s use of dialogue, the cinematic achievements of Clint Eastwood, and the works of mangaka from the medium’s early years to today comes across not just as an appreciation for those artists, but a fundamental understanding of what makes them great. From his insights into how he works to his analysis of all of the elements that go into making a successful creative piece, Hirohiko Araki is a creator who is in tune with his medium, his readers, and the concept of literature as a whole. Whether it’s Stands, Old West showdowns, or creepy towns made up entirely of mansions, Araki’s manga is always worth reading.




Anime News Network: Your fans associate JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure with high fashion. Can you take us through the process by which you create unique costumes for your characters?


HIROHIKO ARAKI: When I create characters’ outfits, I am conscious of two elements: ‘daily life’ and ‘fantasy’. I envision everyday fashion alongside strange, cartoonish, bizarre clothing that would be impractical in real life.




NHA N Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

You don’t seem to stick to a specific color scheme for your characters when doing cover illustrations or color pages. Why is that?

I put more emphasis on giving readers different feelings and impressions through different color combinations.


When I create characters’ outfits, I am conscious of two elements:

‘daily life’ and ‘fantasy’. 145


Which Stand powers were the most fun for you to draw? Are there any Stand powers which you had an especially difficult time depicting?

ANN H One of my favorites stands is Shigechi’s (Shigekiyo Yangu’s) ‘Harvest.’

One that I had a difficult time with (not artistically, but rather in terms of plot and story development) is ‘Killer Queen’ in Part 4. I felt that I may have made it too strong. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if Josuke was not able to defeat it.



Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

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Steel Ball Run took an interesting approach to battle manga by focusing on a positive portrayal of a hero with a disability. What inspired you to create Johnny Joestar?



My work centers around protagonists who grow as they overcome hardship. In creating Johnny, I didn’t necessarily set out to depict a hero with a disability. He was the end result of my pursuit to create a character who could grow, both physically and mentally, during a race where he would be forced not only to rely on other people, but horses as well.


N N A Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

Initially you drew muscular bodies because Stallone and Schwarzennegger were popular at the time, then you shifted to slimmer bodies because fans were losing interest and you wanted to experiment with your own interest in fashion. Steel Ball Run and JoJolion seem to represent another big shift in the evolution of your art style. What inspired their look?


In Parts 1 through 8, I put a conscious effort into creating distinguishable protagonists who don’t have similar silhouettes and appearances, including their outfit designs. I also have the protagonists function to symbolize the “world” that each part takes place in, so the story influences them as well. Of course, I also don’t want to hinder the evolution of the art itself. I’m always exploring art styles.





You worked for several years with a weekly deadline as part of Shonen Jump, until transitioning to a monthly deadline when JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure moved to Ultra Jump in 2004. What are your feelings on the weekly vs. monthly model of creating manga?


Having a deadline every week, along with shorter chapters, restricts what can be drawn, and also requires momentum to build up excitement for the following week. With monthlies, there’s more pages and flexibility for me to draw at my own pace, which suits me at this time.




NN Lectures of Hirohiko Araki

It’s become a running joke among your fans and colleagues that you’re an immortal who doesn’t age. Do you have any beauty tips you’d like to share with our readers?

Living an orderly lifestyle and face washing with Tokyo tap water.

HA 151


In Manga in Theory and Practice, you say that the theme of all 8 parts of JoJo is “an affirmation that humanity is wonderful”. Could you elaborate on that?


I believe that people are able to grow by overcoming obstacles through the power of the human spirit and strength, and that, I believe is “an affirmation that humanity is wonderful”. Within ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’, there are fights and stories that involve various elements. However, in the end, people pull through without relying on machines and divine beings to determine fate themselves. Drawing people like that is my ‘affirmation that humanity is wonderful’. 152



Lectures of Hirohiko Araki





Joestar Family Tree A


Joestar Family Tree B

Lectures of Hirohiko Araki


A Collection of Essays and Articles on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Concept & Design by Winona Peace Body text 9pt/13pt Additional text 12-112pt All images are the property of © Araki, Hirohiko & Lucky Land Communications





Profile for Winona Peace

When Stands Cry: A Beginner's Guide to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure  

A collection of articles and essays on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Curated and designed by Winona Peace. Student project.

When Stands Cry: A Beginner's Guide to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure  

A collection of articles and essays on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Curated and designed by Winona Peace. Student project.